North Texas

Fort Worth Councilman Launches Neighborhood Revitalization Plan

There is a major push to clean up one of the highest-crime areas in Fort Worth. Las Vegas Trail is located on the west side of the city and only stretches a few miles but is notorious for criminal activity.

Now, Councilman Brian Byrd, who represents the area, has an aggressive plan to change that.

"It's a war zone," said Jan Chesser, as she described the surrounding neighborhood outside her apartment complex on Las Vegas Trail.

The Vietnam veteran said she's pretty much seen it all.

"I feel safe, but I know how to handle myself," she said.

Chesser often retreats to the tranquil pool at her apartment complex, Villas del Mar, where new management made safety a priority.

"We came in with police, doing off-duty security. I think we kicked out a total of 90 apartments, dropped the occupancy down significantly, and did what it required to do to clean it up," said Joshua Barrad, the manager at Villas del Mar.

It's mindsets like Barrad's that Councilman Byrd says the neighborhood needs more of.

"There are drugs that get dealt out of these businesses that are all around us right now," Byrd said, as he stood at the intersection of Las Vegas Trail and Calmont Avenue.

"I'm so excited, because we've put together a team that is all high-level leaders who care about people," Byrd said, of his revitalization plan.

"This community, like all communities, it's a system, and the residents here are part of it, and they need to be part of the solution as well," said TD Smyers, the CEO of United Way Tarrant County.

Byrd said his revitalization project includes partnerships with agencies including the United Way that can help boost the economy, education and safety.

"Missing children, gangs, shootings, narcotics," said Fort Worth Police Lt. Cynthia O'Neil, listing the crimes she's responded to.

She says cleaning up the area will take time, but it's possible.

"Basically we'll take the safety and security issues and address them one at a time, and once we alleviate one it's just like paying off a debt, you take that effort and go towards the other one," she said.

Residents like Jan Chesser welcome the ambitious plan and hope others will, too.

"It's the attitude around here, 'Well, we can't do anything about it,' that's what has to change," she said.

Byrd is hosting a public forum on Oct. 25 to give residents and business owners a chance to weigh in.

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